Pubdate: Sun, 18 Aug 2002
Source: Times and Democrat, The (SC)
Copyright: 2002, The Times and Democrat
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


The anti-drug efforts of the Dorchester County Sheriff's Interstate 
Criminal Enforcement Team are no doubt well-intended, but ultimately 
counterproductive. So-called drug-related crime is invariably 
prohibition-related. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while 
demand remains constant only increase the profitability of drug 
trafficking. In terms of addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street 
prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed 
desperate habits. The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

There are cost-effective alternatives to never-ending drug war. In Europe, 
the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by replacing 
marijuana prohibition with adult regulation. Dutch rates of drug use are 
significantly lower than U.S. rates in every category. Separating the hard 
and soft drug markets and establishing age controls for marijuana has 
proven more effective than zero-tolerance.

Here in the United States, marijuana provides the black market contacts 
that introduce consumers to addictive drugs like meth. This "gateway" is 
the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. Given that marijuana is 
arguably safer than legal alcohol -- the plant has never been shown to 
cause an overdose death -- it makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed 
policies that finance organized crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs. 
Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to 
think the children themselves are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A., Program Officer Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, DC 
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